Royce has not been getting his propers for a while now. He’s been the man in underground circles for more than a minute, yet outside of a few singles on Game and a barely released album by Koch Records, you wouldn’t even know his shit was out there. Royce is obviously not happy about it, and he’d like to share that dissatisfaction with the hip-hop public. Thus “Build and Destroy” was released, an independent album you can purchase from online stores like Amazon. This is no lightweight release though – no EP of poorly produced material, no LP of tracks that didn’t make the cut of an album, no unreleased bootlegs of studio tracks being put out by a frustrated MC in a bad deal.

Actually, Royce might be a frustrated rapper in a bad deal, but that doesn’t detract from the quality of this double disc CD. Double disc? That’s right – Royce has so much to say they couldn’t all cram this into one album. Appropriately enough this album is split into two discs – the first is a “Build” CD with his hot shit that should have been in stores, and the second is a “Destroy” CD with verbal ammunition aimed at all his enemies and haters (more on that in a minute). The first disc is a mix of original songs, remakes, and tracks that until now were probably only heard by hardcore Royce fans downloading tracks with Kazaa, such as “Scary Movie (The Sequel)” – a follow-up to his original duet track with Eminem as part of Bad Meets Evil. The D’s dirtiest is spittin’ pure fire inspired directly by the film:

“I’m wearin a white mask, black cloak and dagger
You scatter, hopin for life, grabbin ropes and ladders
Under this robe I’m tatted up, automatic’ed up
I’m, mad as fuck, I’ma kill no matter what you
live in the wrong house at the wrong time you
answered the wrong call so you all mines
You can’t put fear in the heart of the heartless
Got a list of names, just don’t know which one to start with
I’m tryin to lift you off your feet, hope you know gymnastics
Try to, soak the mattress with broke molasses
You try to, cover your head like a prophylactic
Next time somebody callin your phone, don’t answer it”

There’s hot shit a-plenty to be found on “Build.” The dirty ass “Take His Life” featuring Tre, blended into “It’s Over,” followed by the Alchemist produced “I Won’t Be” – and that’s just running through the first six tracks. The other Bad Meets Evil track “Nuthin’ to Do” featuring Eminem is one of the inclusions on the first disc, and if you haven’t heard it this verbal barrage is proof positive why hip-hop fans were so hot to hear a full length album from these two to begin with:

Eminem: “Burnin your contracts, punch your A&R in the face
Smash his glasses and turn em to contacts
I’m on some shook shit, if it’s missin I took it (whoops!)
Nurse look at this straightjacket, it’s crooked!
I go to jail and murder you from a cell
Put a knife in an envelope and have you stabbed in the mail (FedEx)
So how do you describe someone, with a decapitated head
when the rest of his body’s still alive RUNNIN?”

Royce: “Comin with five gunmen, waitin to do a drive-by
So when you see the black 500 (what?) hide from it
For every hundred MC’s rhymin about birds
only about two-thirds’d really set it without words
Yo you ain’t a thug, I can make you bitch up
Pick the fifth up, cock, spit, you would swear it’s rainin slugs (what?)
I’m the hottest shit in the industry (uh)
I got every thug on the block that get a wind of me defendin me”

Some of these tracks feature so much food for the lovers of fat raps they are virtual smorgasboards in themselves; among them “R.A.W.” featuring Checkmate and Concise with scratching by DJ Revolution, “Knuckle Up” featuring Hush and “What the Beat” featuring Eminem and Method Man. This sixty-eight minutes of music also features Royce freestyles ripped straight from mixtapes, not unlike the bonus tracks appearing on the first CD of Mobb Deep’s recent “Free Agents” release, including Stretch Armstrong and Tony Touch. If you were a lyrical punchline king too, you’d brag as much as Royce does on the latter’s inclusion:

“I’m runnin up on you, whether you packin or not
Whether I’m packin or not, with the intent to flatten your knot
Shinin like ten diamonds, I been rhymin
I write shit the pen guides it spittin harder than ten hydrants
Firin on whoever try to take mine; this nigga here
send you a round that’ll spin you around in the ground waist high
I’m too authentic, I’ll end it soon as you walk in it
Who wanna holla, you get swallowed in a New York minute”

This song’s use of the Dr. Dre “Next Episode” beat will no doubt fuel the speculation that Royce was supposed to be linked up with Aftermath and Dre through Eminem, but that either never happened or fell through. This isn’t the only case where it comes up – the hidden track “The Way I Be Pimpin” at the end of the first disc features the beat from Dr. Dre’s “Xxplosive.” Actually, it features more than that – it features the Diggy Doctor himself rapping everything other than the chorus, with credits that read the song was “written for Dr. Dre.” Indeed – Royce seems to have blessed him lovely:

“I’m livin a motion picture, me and my niggaz
In sixteen bars we’ll make the big screen ours
What is this? Everybody’s jiggy now
Is the hustle that good, and everybody’s city now, or do they act good?
I pimp in my sleep, I pimp in my sleep
And when I snore it sounds like I’m sayin – where’s my money?
I ain’t playin, I’m out there like – where’s my honies?
You gotta be a pimp to understand just how I’m layin it
Lex bubble, I’m rich, and after this
I’ma be rich all over again, except double
See you ain’t so hard; if you ain’t burnin rubber
in somethin with #’s after the dot, you ain’t no star”

So what’s up with this? There’s obviously something bubbling around underneath the surface, and with the second disc “Destroy” the shit only gets deeper. Word on the street (while technically not the street at all, more like the internet gossip column) has it that Royce is not only pissed at Eminem for playing him by not putting an album out through Aftermath, but at playing him by signing both Obie Trice and 50 Cent to deals with Shady Records instead of putting him on. He’s pulling no punches about his feelings on the subject with songs like the D-12 diss track “Malcolm X”:

“Yeah, what rap crew I gotta snatch up out the game
Who must I smack for sayin my name?
Somebody gon’ die, it’s probably YOU
You couldn’t fit Bizarre’s body in my shoes
Niggaz quick to talk, all hood ’til I pop up
Plus, you just act tough cause Suge got locked up
I am above y’all, when you droppin your raps to diss me
I only recognize the top of your hats
And I don’t like Proof punk-ass, he think he tough
He keep thirty niggaz with him, cause he weak as fuck!
I ever catch you by yourself, I’ma fuck you up
Snatch your little cheap-ass chain and piece you up
You better hope you and the white boy keep in touch
And be a good little hype man, or your lease is up
Since Slim signed 50, I don’t see your teeth as much
That’s good, cause you got a grill like a fuckin truck!
Bizarre you a fat stutterin fuck
You a joke, I choke whoever buttered you up
I’ve been ridin by your house, you don’t come out too much
You hidin, when I find you I’ma snatch you out of the truck
and tie your fat stankin ass to your couch and just
FEED YOU, you already look like you about to bust
Nigga you can run or hide; I’ll be on your porch
with a cheeseburger tryin to lure you outside!”

It’s brutal, it’s vicious, and Royce threatens to finish it “quicker than Bizarre can finish a biscuit.” And to Eminem? “Don’t call me, I’m not ready to squash it yet. Kiss my ass!” But despite being labelled the “Destroy” disc, there’s actually a lot of material on here other than D-12 diss tracks, although “What We Do” is another funny gem in that saga. There’s a lot of hype that should have hit the streets before now that hasn’t, such as the Kanye West produced “Heartbeat,” Rush’s “Take Me Away” and “Life Goes On” as laced by fellow Detroit native Jay Dee. You may also recognize the bootleg version of “Renegade” which has been making the file-trading circuit for a while now. The story goes that Royce recorded this song with Eminem, but when Jay-Z called for a track on his “Blueprint” album Em deleted all of the Royce lines and references so that Jay-Z could rap over it instead. When you hear his rap over the beat, you be the judge:

“So {*heavy breathing*} breathe, I’d rather REACH for your neck
And I never HEAT you for respect, unless you GREET me wit less
I got a skunk, in my trunk
I’m lyin, I got a pump in my trunk
You dyin, how many lumps niggaz want?
Who’s ready for y’all? We ready for y’all
We too incredibly raw, for any artist that said he would draw
I stand firm, and it hurts to live it
You open that can of worms, I hope you ready for the dirt that’s wit it
Slap a hoe, snatch a mic!
Bein brought to y’all in black and in white
(IT’S the NEW!) Joe Jackson and Ike, we renegades”

Whether or not you’re shocked by all of the revelations of this double album through this point, it’s hard to deny that both discs are a well produced selection of beats and a choice selection of cuts showcasing Royce at his most lyrical and humerous; and he’s clearly not letting up when you hear songs like “Death Day” which diss Eminem and his crew right over the beat to 50’s popular “In Da Club”:

“We gon’ party like it’s your death day
Now we bringin the noise again, the boy should win
The story is told over and over again
The fuck is you doped up? My whole team toy with tools
I got a combustible notebook and a poison pen
Upon game, the boy can scrap flows, LeBron James
Like a young man among boys of rap
And he’s BACK, to clean house, yeah shut the fuck up
Steve Stoute said I was whack, he bout to shut the fuck up
How riveting am I? I’m living inside my cynical mind
Spillin my nine, a clumsy killer that’s comfy with criminal ties
Really the city is mine
Me and Eminem like Diddy and Shyne”

It’s pretty clear listening to songs like these why no record label would touch publishing it officially – they’d probably have to fear Shady Records running up in some A&R’s office with gats and shooting at whoever signed Royce to release this album in the first place. With this second disc Royce threatens to “do you like EPMD did to the heads when they broke up” but there’s no reason to be depressed with tracks like the Rush produced “Running,” the DJ JS-1 produced “Lights Out,” and the Alchemist produced “You Don’t Know Me.” Why haven’t these songs been heard before? Maybe there really is a conspiracy to keep Royce out of hip-hop’s spotlight, or maybe he really does have a beef with Eminem and Dre. Whatever the case, snatch yourself a copy of “Build and Destroy” before some label snatches up all the copies and has them destroyed: you’ll hear one of the best MC’s that doesn’t give a fuck in the business.

Royce Da 5'9 :: Build and Destroy
8Overall Score